156. Where to stay

I actually enjoy trip planning.

I know it makes some people nervous and they’d prefer to leave it all in the hands of a travel agent, but to me, it’s so much fun that sometimes I even plan fictitious trips to Italy that I have no intention of actually taking, and consider finding good hotels one of my superpowers.

The first thing I look for is location. I don’t want to find myself in a perfectly nice hotel, but out on the outskirts of town by the convention center. The second thing I look for is the free breakfast. Italian hotel breakfasts, featuring an assortment of cakes that I don’t even eat, are one of my favorite things about any trip, and I refuse to stay at any hotel that doesn’t include it. Then, of course, I look at the reviews, trying to disregard the outlier, crackpot negatives. Finally, price, although we are typically able to find lovely places that are far less expensive than an American highway-side Hampton Inn.

Many beautiful cake options for breakfast
Assortment of local cheeses
Not my usual breakfast

In Italy, there is a system of lodging at family farms, originally designed to keep the farms afloat, called agriturismi. The settings are beautiful, the rooms are nice, and the food is often straight from the fields. We stayed at a very nice agriturismo this time, Masseria Vecchia, that seems to be going all in on the hotel aspect with a pool, hot tub and destination wedding facilities, and less so on the farming. While always nice, most agriturismi are more rustic and agricultural.

Not Old MacDonald’s Farm anymore, with its elegant dining room
Prickly pears and olives are the two main crops here
Enjoying farm life by the pool
The hot tub. The pine cone symbol is common here, and is a symbol of welcome.

I always try to engage an Airbnb with a washing machine midway through the trip, so that we can limit ourselves to only a carry-on to avoid the hour-long wait at the baggage carousel at the Philadelphia airport. This time, we found a perfect little apartment with our own private terrace for only $45 a night in Ragusa, a charming, lively town that we really enjoyed.

Had to climb a ladder to get to the loft bedroom, but that was all part of the adventure.
Our private terrace for breakfast in the morning
79 steps to get to our apartment. Mandatory functional fitness.

Finally, we stayed at a “normal” hotel in Palermo. I put normal in quotes, because there was really nothing normal about it. The owner seemed to use it as a place to indulge his passion for collecting art and artifacts, which made for some surprises.

In the breakfast room
Watching us in the shower
Not enough charging outlets, but our room had five motorcycles. Who can complain?

5 thoughts on “156. Where to stay

  1. Bravo, Gigi. In December 2010, Kathie and I stayed at a fine hotel near the Milan train station that had a terrific breakfast spread.

    Sounds like your research struck gold multiple times in Sicily.



  2. Hi Gigi. I just sent this to my kids who ate going to Italy this month. Thanks ❤️

    Sent from Nancy’s iPad



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